The U.S. Navy 19 March sealed the deal on a 10th ship in its latest iteration of the Virginia-class attack submarine, issuing a $2.4 billion adjustment on a contract initially awarded in December 2019. By exercising an option to order another boat, USN brings total spending on procurement of Block V Virginia-class submarines to almost $25 billion. The net increase for the contract is $1.89 billion. Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Newport News shipyard is the partner yard in the program. Work will be carried out by Electric Boat and principal subcontractor Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding, with a planned completion date of February 2030.
In December 2019, Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) awarded a nine-boat Block V contract for Electric Boat. The 10th Block V Virginia-class submarine will include the Virginia Payload Module, an 84-foot section of the boat that will serve as an undersea vertical launcher for missiles. The modern Virginia-class subs coming off the lines can hold 12 Tomahawk missiles in a launcher on the bow. With the payload module section added amidships, each of the Virginia Payload Modules on the Block Vs will have the capacity for 40 cruise missiles. In total, eight of the 10 boats in Block V will have the module. The Virginia subs will also host the new version of the anti-ship Maritime Strike Tomahawk.
The Virginia class, also known as the SSN-774 class, is a class of nuclear-powered cruise missile fast-attack submarines, currently in service in the United States Navy. Designed by General Dynamics’s Electric Boat (EB) and Huntington Ingalls Industries, the Virginia-class submarines are the United States Navy’s latest undersea warfare platform which incorporates the latest in stealth, intelligence gathering and weapons systems technology. Virginia-class submarines are designed for a broad spectrum of open-ocean and littoral missions, including anti-submarine warfare and intelligence gathering operations. They are scheduled to replace older Los Angeles-class submarines, many of which have already been decommissioned.
The U.S. Navy plans to acquire at least 30 Virginia-class submarines, however, more recent data provided by the Naval Submarine League (in 2011) and the Congressional Budget Office (in 2012) seems to imply that more than 30 submarines may eventually be built. The Naval Submarine League believes that up to 10 Block V boats will be built. The same source also states that 10 additional submarines could be built after Block V submarines, with 5 in the so-called Block VI and 5 in Block VII, largely due to the delays experienced with the “Improved Virginia”. Virginia-class submarines will be acquired through 2043, and are expected to remain in service until at least 2060, with later submarines expected to remain into the 2070s.